Reporting Gunshot Wounds

In September 2003, the GMC published new guidance, Reporting Gunshot Wounds Guidance for Doctors Working in Accident and Emergency

Departments, developed in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers. The guidance may be obtained from the GMC and viewed on its Website at www.gmc-uk.org.

In summary, it states that: "The police should be told whenever a person has arrived at a hospital with a gun shot wound," but "at this stage identifying details, such as the patient's name and address, should not usually be disclosed." The doctor with clinical responsibility for the patient should ensure that the police are notified but may delegate the task to any member of the accident and emergency staff. Ordinarily, the patient's consent to disclose his or her name and other information must be sought and the treatment and care of the patient must be the doctor's first concern. If the patient's consent is refused, information may be disclosed only when the doctor judges that disclosure would prevent others from suffering serious harm or would help prevent, detect, or prosecute a serious crime. In short, the usual principles of confidentiality apply, and any doctor who breaches confidentiality must be prepared to justify his or her decision.

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